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HK Police confirm arrest of Ylagan & Grospe

08 June 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap
Ester Ylagan was arrested
in Western District
Hong Kong police have confirmed the arrest of the two prime suspects in the biggest cases to have rocked the Filipino community in the past two and a half years.

Ester Ylagan, co-owner of the defunct Emry’s Service Staff and Employment Agency, who allegedly duped up to 500 job applicants into applying for non-existent jobs in Britain and Canada, was arrested early yesterday, June 7. She is still being held for questioning.

Arnold Grospe, former marketing director of Peya Travel, which collapsed in December last year amid complaints of unpaid air tickets from more than 1,000 of its customers, was arrested the other day, June 6, and was released on police bail. He was told to report back to Police early next month.

Arnold Grospe was picked up in Central
In reply to an enquiry from The SUN, the police said: “Police received reports from 210 persons since 2016 alleging that they were deceived by an employment agency incurring loss ranging from HK$5,000 to HK$20,000 each. Upon further investigation by the Regional Crime Unit of Hong Kong Island, a 65-year-old foreign woman was arrested for “conspiracy to defraud” and “dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence” (also known as money laundering) in Western District yesterday (June 7). The woman is still being detained for enquiry.”

Referring to Grospe, the police statement said: “Upon further investigation, a 49-year-old foreign man was arrested for conspiracy to defraud on Connaught Road Central in Central on June 6 night. The arrested 49-year-old foreign man was released on Police bail and is requested to report back to Police in early July, 2018.”

The Philippine Consulate through Consul Paul Saret, head of the assistance to nationals section, earlier confirmed receiving information about the arrests from police. But Saret said no other details were disclosed to them.

"The PCG was informed by the HK Police Force yesterday of the arrests of Arnold Grospe (the day before, 6 June ) and of Ester Ylagan (yesterday, 7 June). They are both detained for investigation, Grospe for conspiracy to defraud, and Ylagan for conspiracy to defraud and for money laundering," said Saret.

"Although we have yet to hear of the details of the arrests and the effects on the cases, initially we are glad and hopeful that the wheels of justice will finally start moving, with the arrests of the prime suspects in these two scams which victimized our compatriots. The PCG will release the necessary advisories once we receive the report of the Police."

The Consulate has been following up both cases with the HK Police. It has also assisted hundreds of alleged victims in the two cases in filing complaints against both suspects.

In Ylagan’s case, more than 200 OFWs sought help in July 2016 initially from Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre in drafting affidavits of complaint over the alleged fraudulent job offers, which could have netted the veteran recruiter up to $5 million in fees.

Their complaints were then turned over to the ATN section, which forwarded them to the HK Labor Department and the HK Police. Their claim for refund amounting to about $3million is still pending before the courts.

Ylagan volunteered on two occasions to go to the police, claiming she had been tricked herself into sending the job applicants’ money to an unknown business partner in Britain.

But documents submitted subsequently by lawyers for the complainants to the police showed Ylagan and several other people had sent up to $10 million to several people in countries as far apart as Malaysia and Burkina Faso.

Ylagan remained free up until this arrest.

Grospe, on the other hand, was taken by the police for questioning on Dec 21 last year, after the air ticketing fiasco left hundreds of Filipinos about to fly home for the Christmas holidays stranded at HK airport. He was released without charges.

At the Consulate’s initiative, more than 1,000 Peya customers executed affidavits of complaint, which were forwarded to the police for the filing of appropriate charges.

On Dec 24, Peya owner Rhea Donna Boyce was arrested by the police but was subsequently released on police bail. Her husband and Peya co-owner Peter Boyce was likewise arrested on Dec. 27 and released on police bail. They were both told to report back to police in early August this year.

Police then sought to also arrest Grospe but could no longer locate him in Hong Kong. Reports subsequently confirmed by authorities indicated he had gone to Macau, but he apparently returned to Hong Kong.

Consulate sources said his Philippine passport was cancelled shortly after Police put him on its lookout list.

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